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How To Can Food – Follow These Steps
Before refrigeration was introduced, people still used to preserve food after harvesting it for later use and one of the methods used to preserve food was canning. In fact, most foods can easily be safely canned under high-temperature and high-pressure conditions with a pressure-canner while acidic-foods with a pH less than 4.6 can be preserved in jars by using boiling water-bath. On the other hand, the main purpose of canning is to kill all the micro-organisms that spoil food and then seal the jar or can in order to keep them out. All in all, canning puts most of the emphasis on cleanliness, sterilization and total hygiene for best results. Below are some of the steps that you can follow in order to properly preserve your food through canning.
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SECTION-1: CHOOSING THE FOOD TO CAN:
- Choose the food to be canned: it is very good to can food that you like because there is no point in canning food that you don’t like or the family doesn’t like unless you plan to giving-out or selling the canned food. In case you grow fruits and vegetable, choose a food you have in plenty and can it. Additionally, canning will also be a great way of preserving extra tomatoes, apples and other fruits at their peak.
- Begin canning with something simple: in case you have never canned food before, start canning with something simple because some food will require more time, extra handling and processing than others. You may begin canning with one batch of tomatoes or jam and then keep on increasing on the amount as become comfortable the canning process.
- Select food in good condition: try to choose foods that are still in good condition for canning. In case you’re canning fruits or vegetables make sure that they are still ripe, firm and free of bad spots or mold. In fact, all the food to be canned should be in its natural-state (ripe) for best results.
SECTION-2: PREPARE THE FOOD TO BE CANNED:
- Check-out a recipe-book or canning-guide to gets tips on canning-food: it is very important to read through a recipe-book or canning-guide in order to get the specific time and techniques to be used on the foods you plan to can. This is important because different foods require different processing time and techniques in order to achieve best results.
- Clean the hands thoroughly: you need to wash the hands thoroughly before you start preparing the foods to be canned and also make sure that your hands a kept clean throughout the preparation process. This will help to reduce on the amount of bacteria which may contaminate the canned-food. In fact, clean the hands again in case you visit a bathroom, sneeze or touch any other items during the canning process.
- Prepare the food according to the recipe-guide: most of the food will require cutting into pieces so that it can fit easily into the jars. for example; peel and cut-up vegetables and fruits, remove stems, pits cores and other parts you don’t eat, cook the jam and soak pickles and try to prepare apple-butter, applesauce, relish and other foods according to their recipes.
- Create the canning-liquid incase the recipe recommends it: make canning-liquid incase the recipe calls for it because most fruits and vegetables are actually canned as a syrup or brine.
SECTION-3: STERILIZE THE CANNING JARS:
- Sterilize the jars: start to sterilize the mason-jars by boiling them in hot-water for about 10-minutes. Sterilizing the jars is very crucial because this will help to eliminate any bacteria which may damage the canned food. But after boiling the jars in water, place then upside-down on a clean towel and put another towel over them and leave the jars there until you are ready to use them. On the other hand, you can also sterilize the jars by placing them in a dishwasher and then run it for a full cycle.
- Boil the jar-seals in water: boil about an inch of water in a medium saucepan and then put the jar-seals into this hot-water. Push these seals down to the saucepan bottom and don’t stack them so that they can heat evenly. Leave them in water for about 2-minutes in order to allow them to soften-up. This step can actually be done while filling the jars so that you can remove the seals directly from water and close your jars.
SECTION-4: CAN THE CHOOSEN FOOD:
- Fill your jars: this is also referred to as packing the jars and food can actually be hot-packed or cold-packed because this depends on whether food is cooked and packed into the jars when hot or simply cut-up and packed into jars cold. This difference in packing the jars may actually affect the cooking time for the same food so it’s best the recipe-guide carefully in order to achieve best results.
- Leave some space at the top of the jar: you will have to leave a little bit of space at the top of the jar and this is usually referred to as head-space. The head-space is actually necessary and it varies between 3-mm and 25-mm depending on the food on the food you are canning hence it would be best to check for specific instructions on how to can your food.
- Add some preservatives: try to add some preservatives to the food being canned but according to the recipe-guide. Preservatives that are usually used for home-canning include salt, sugar and acids like lemon-juice and ascorbic-acid sold in powder-form. Add these preservatives to the food before adding the liquid so that it mixes up when pouring the liquid in.
- Pour the preserving-liquid or syrup into the jar: you will now pour the syrup or preservative-liquid into the jar but leave ½-inch of space at the top of the jar for best results.
- Remove the air-bubbles: when pouring liquid over loose pieces of food, this will actually leave air-bubbles. But you can remove these bubbles by simply running a long plastic-knife down along the sides while jiggling or gently pressing the food in order to release any bubbles.
- Wipe the jars with a clean, damp cloth: try to gently wipe the rims and threads of the jars with a clean but damp cloth in order to remove any drips or residue. Make sure that you clean the top surface where the seal will sit when closing the jars.
- Place a seal on each jar: get the seals safely out of the boiling water using a magnetic lid-wand and then place these seals onto each jar. To release the seal, you have to set it on to the jar and then slightly tilt the wand. In case you don’t have a lid-wand, then you can use a small pair of tongs but never try to touch the seals or lid with your hands because this can lead to contamination.
- Screw-up the seal: carefully screw a clean ring down over the seal and then tighten it with some hand-pressure. But try not to tighten so much because you may end-up pressing all the seal material off the rim.
SECTION-5: USE THE CANNER
- Use a water-bath canner: try to use a water-bath canner incase the canning-recipe calls for it. In fact, water-bath canning works well for many cooked foods and acidic-fruits. However, check your recipe-guide to be sure whether water-bath canning is adequate for the food you’re canning. In fact, this process involves lowering the jars onto a rack in the water-bath canner or in a large stock-pot but add enough water to cover the jars up to 1 to 2 inches (2.2cm).
- Cover the canner: carefully cover the canner after placing in the jars and then make sure that the water gently boils but for a specified period of time but you can add on the processing-time in case you are more than 3000-feet above sea-level.
- Use a pressure-canner if the recipe recommends it: pressure-canning will be required when preserving most vegetables and meats because they don’t have enough acid within.
SECTION-6: HOW TO HANDLE THE PROCESSED JARS:
- Remove the jars your canner: use jar-tongs to safely and securely remove the jars from the canner and then place these jars onto a clean towel so that they can cool down.
- Give the full-jars enough time to cool: allow the full-jars to cool for about 24-hours but in an area free from drafts. You will actually hear metal-lids making loud plinking-sound but this means that the contents in the jar are cooling and creating a partial vacuum. In fact, don’t touch the lids but let them get sealed on their own.
- Check whether the jars are sealed: try to check the jars to ensure that they have been sealed well after several hours have passed. In case you can press the center the center of the lid down then the jar did not get sealed well and this means that you have to place a fresh lid onto this jar. You can even refrigerate the jars that are not sealed well and then consume the contents inside soon